John Geli, vice president of DST Retirement Solutions, doesn'tpurport to have a crystal ball.

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Just exactly what the Department of Labor's finalized fiduciaryrule will mean for recordkeepers, plan sponsors, andtheir advisors can't be fully known until the rule is posted.

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But that doesn't mean he and his team are sitting on theirhands, says Geli.

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“We're talking to advisors and stakeholders every day,leveraging thought leadership, allocating budgets, and preparing torollout compliance solutions for whatever comes out,” saidGeli.

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“The hope is that anything that moves forward takes into accountthe goals of getting people better prepared for retirement, andthat means increasing access to the right types of tools to getthem there,” he said.

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DST Systems, Inc., a global provider of benefits solutions thatincludes a recordkeeping business, third-partyadministration solutions, a broker-dealer, and a suite ofmanagement and compliance tools for plan advisors, acquired WealthManagement Systems, Inc. for $64 million last August.

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Geli was CEO of WMSI at the time, which was founded in 2000 as atechnology consulting company.

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In 2004, WMSI introduced its Advisor Rollover Network, an openarchitecture platform of 16 different IRA providers that helpssponsors and advisors deliver non-conflicted rollover strategies toplan participants.

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Read: 401(k) technology brings innovation toretirement advising

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Along with the rollover platform, DST acquired WMSI's suite ofadvisor services tools, which give access to open architectureinvestment benchmarking services, and connects advisors to theuniverse of recordkeeping data on retirement plans, as well asspecific data on plan participants.

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DST also gains WMSI's customized education and communicationcapabilities

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Whatever the DOL's final rule looks like, few doubt that itwon't dramatically affect how advisors can market rollover servicesto plan participants.

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As proposed, the rule would require advisors to plans with lessthan $100 million in assets act as fiduciaries to sponsors.

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It would also require advisors and brokers charge fees on IRAassets that are level to what participants were paying when theassets were in plan. And the proposal would make the offering ofproprietary investment products exceedingly more complicated.

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“We have really bright people who have been deeply invested inthe issue for the past year,” explained Geli, who of course wasalso acquired by DST in the WMSI deal.

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“We're actively working on a number of frameworks that will helpadvisors comply with a new rule—those of course can't be completeduntil a rule is in place and we know exactly what it looks like,”said Geli.

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But the idea is to be ready to move, and quickly, when a finalrule emerges, he said.

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This week, Cambridge Investment Research, one of the largestprivately owned independent broker-dealers in the country,announced it is using WMSI's IRA platform and management solutionsto launch a new platform for its channel of 2,700 independentadvisors, called the Cambridge Retirement Center.

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It will offer plan-centric advisors the ability to befiduciaries to sponsors and participants by offering fee-basedsolutions, along with communication and wellness solutions.

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With $67 billion in total assets under management, Iowa-basedCambridge was an early adopter of a hybrid compensation model inthe early 1990s.

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Geli said WMSI has been in talks with Cambridge for sometime—indicating the deal and product development's initiation isnot necessarily a direct result of the DOL's effort to require alladvisors to plans under the $100 million threshold befiduciaries.

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“No matter what the DOL finalizes, the platform we created withCambridge has tremendous value for advisors,” said Geli. “Thecombination of WMSI's specialties and DST's recordkeepingcapability will redefine the advisor experience with personalized,nimble, platform agnostic solutions across the full spectrum of theretirement lifecycle.”

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As is, DST's core recordkeeping platform services morethan seven million participants and $143 billion in assets in plansthat range in size from startups to those with more than $1 billionin savings.

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Geli expects the DOL's rule to create challenges for someadvisors and opportunities for others. He says the new DST-WMSIcapabilities will get advisors the solutions they need to benefitfrom what is expected to be a dramatically different plan advisormarket.

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“For some that will be our rollover solutions, for some thatwill be communication solutions, for some it will be ourrecordkeeping platform, and for others it will be all that weoffer,” said Geli.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.